An allusion is an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly. It is an indirect or passing reference that is only meaningful if the person reading has the background knowledge to understand it. In this essay, you’ll be asked to think critically about why an author would choose to do such a thing – to bury a reference and, perhaps, to create conversation between themselves and a world of other writers beneath the surface of the text.
In Nadine Gordimer’s short story “Loot,” the narrator makes repeated allusions to a portion of Shakespeare’s The Tempest called “Ariel’s Song.” For your first essay, you are being asked to explain how “Ariel’s Song” is incorporated into Gordimer’s short story and, most importantly, to describe how effective her use of allusion is.
Your thesis will answer the question: “How does Gordimer’s use of allusion allow her to deepen the meaning of the story she is telling”? Why is it effective (or not effective)?
You might choose to focus your analysis on how Gordimer’s use of allusion deepens her message on one of the following topics:
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Curtsied when you have, and kiss’d
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.
The watch-dogs bark.
Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them—Ding-dong, bell.